Gauchos seeded 15th, open NCAA tourney on Sunday

UCSB went 13-6-4 in the regular season with signature wins against Stanford and UCLA. Midfielder Josue España pictured. (Presidio Sports Photo)

UCSB went 13-6-2 in the regular season with signature wins against Stanford and UCLA. Midfielder Josue España pictured. (Presidio Sports Photo)

The UCSB men’s soccer team received a top-16 seed and a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament. The pairings were announced Monday morning.

The Gauchos were seeded 15th in the 48-team tournament and will open play on Sunday at 6 p.m. at Harder Stadium against the winner of a first-round match between South Carolina (11-7-1) and Furman (8-5-5). That match will be played Thursday at South Carolina.

INTERACTIVE BRACKET: NCAA MEN’S SOCCER TOURNAMENT

“The draw could not have gone better, in all reality,” said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. “Anytime you play someone from a different conference, or a team that you wouldn’t normally play, that’s a win for us. Another thing is that whichever team we go up against will have to play a game on Thursday night and then fly 3,000 miles across the country to get to us, so that’s always a tough road trip.”

This will be UCSB’s 12th trip to the NCAA Tournament – all since 2001 – and the team’s 13th postseason berth in the past 14 seasons. The Gauchos are 11-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament games at Harder Stadium.

Three Big West teams made the tournament. Cal State Fullerton, which beat the Gauchos 1-0 in the Big West Tournament final, plays host to Santa Clara in the first round, and Cal Poly travels to UCLA in a first-round match on Thursday.

Wake Forest is the top seeded team in the tournament and Clemson is No. 2. The other seeds are Georgetown, Akron, North Carolina, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Stanford, Ohio State, Maryland, Seattle, Creighton, Denver, South Florida, and Indiana.

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